Da Game is To Be Sold, Not to Be Told is a masterpiece of dynamic, unforgettable hip-hop, driven by brilliant samples and Snoop Dogg's mind-boggling rhymes. Oh, wait, what I meant to say was Da Game is To Be Sold, Not to Be Told is a total throwaway from start to finish, and every song sounds exactly the same.
I'm having trouble figuring out why exactly I was moved to buy this one. I think I had a brief fascination with No Limit Records, based purely on their marketing. Like Blue Note, No Limit has a strong visual style that has spawned countless imitators.
Unlike Blue Note, No Limit does not, by and large, issue good music. But I do admire their savvily tacky packaging, as in-your-face and blatant as the albums themselves. This disc was Snoop Dogg's first offering as a No Limit Soldier, and while it's not the trainwreck that you'd expect from the cover (jewerly-bedecked Snoop in front of his "Snoop World" mansion, holding diamond-studded cane and flanked by attack dogs, one wearing a diamond-studded muzzle), it's hardly the bad-ass bomb it thinks it is.
The nostalgia factor is high ("Gin & Juice II," "Still a G Thang"), as is the bad idea factor ("Woof!," "D.O.G.'s Get Lonely 2"), and as usual there is a cavalcade of No Limit guest stars (C-Murder, Mia X, Master P, Silkk the Shocker). Admittedly, this ain't my favorite kinda hip-hop (I'm the one trying to champion Dimples D, for example), but the real shame is that the disc is just so monotonous. Nigga this, nigga that. Menacing minor chords, lotsa shouting, no real melodies to be found, and no memorable lyrics dropped.
If I had to pick favorites they'd be "Don't Let Go," which approaches a melody, and maybe "Snoop World," which has a funky vibe. But the "bitch" count is characteristically high, and the whole G-funk thing proves itself long past played out within four tracks. Now, don't get me wrong, I like Snoop. I think he's hilarious as he walks from interview to interview in a pot-addled haze. But this CD could really use some pot-smoker giggling. As it is it's just too unpleasant a ride.
As for the packaging, it's basically a No Limit catalog. I'm sure this disc was a commercial flop, but I'd bet Snoop and Master P still made a mint on it. Not all that surprising considering the twenty-odd albums that get advertised in the liner notes and on the tray card. Too bad the last thing they thought about putting any money into was the music.
Review by Whimpsum Tuorl